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What to expect at Trump’s “social media summit” today

What to expect at Trump’s “social media summit” today
[Photo: Shealah Craighead/The White House/Flickr]

The White House is to host a “social media summit” today, which President Trump promises will be “very big and very important.” However, despite the alleged importance of this event, the White House has apparently failed to invite the largest social media companies to it. Various media reports over the last few days indicate Facebook, Twitter, and Google have not been invited to the summit despite the companies having control over the largest social media platforms on the planet.

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Instead, as CNN reports, those attending the summit will be “far-right internet personalities and trolls”:

It’s perhaps the clearest example yet of President Trump legitimizing fringe political allies. The White House has repeatedly declined to release a list people it expects to attend, but some of the recipients have turned to social media to boast about being invited.

Among them are Bill Mitchell, a radio host who has promoted the extremist QAnon conspiracy theory on Twitter; Carpe Donktum, an anonymous troll who won a contest put on by the fringe media organization InfoWars for an anti-media meme; and Ali Alexander, an activist who attempted to smear Sen. Kamala Harris by saying she is not an “American black” following the first Democratic presidential debates.

Other eyebrow raising attendees include James O’Keefe, the guerrilla journalist whose group Project Veritas tried to trick reporters at the Washington Post by planting a source who told the paper that she had been impregnated as a teenager by failed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore; Charlie Kirk, the founder of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA who sometimes posts misleading information on social media; and Benny Johnson, the journalist-turned-activist who was fired for plagiarism by BuzzFeed and demoted at the Independent Journal Review for violating company standards.

The odd guest list aside, the “summit” gets even weirder because, as far as anyone can tell, no one knows what is expected to be addressed at the meeting—even the attendees. The White House has declined to release any information about even the format of the event or what is expected of attendees. One anonymous source who is attending told CNN:

We’re not sure what to expect. We’re not sure if it’s going to even be about policy. All I know is there is going to be a bunch of people in a room talking about social media. It could be just more general, it could be vague. You know the president will be there so it could go in a number of different directions.

As Fast Company reported yesterday, one thing that is almost certain to be addressed is the alleged anti-conservative social media bias that Trump and his supporters claim is being conducted by leading social media platforms. A White House spokesperson also confirmed that “the President wants to engage directly with these digital leaders in a discussion on the power of social media.” The “summit” is scheduled to kick off at 3 p.m. local time.

Update: Trump has now posted on Twitter that the summit will focus on “the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies.”

He then goes on to joke that he won’t leave the office of the presidency for perhaps 10 or 14 years. Happy Thursday, everyone.

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